Katherine R. Hutt, APR, Fellow PRSA | PRSA-NCC
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Katherine R. Hutt, APR, Fellow PRSA

Director of Communications
Council of Better Business Bureaus

Years as a Member of PRSA-NCC: Almost 30! May 1985
Twitter ID: @bbb_us
LinkedIn ID: linkedin.com/in/katherinehutt

Why did you join PRSA-NCC? Back in the 80s when I was at GWU, PR was a single class in the journalism department, taught by a working pro. I was lucky enough to have the then- president of NCC as my professor. He was very enthusiastic about the profession, PRSA and accreditation. My first job out of school was in PR, so as soon as I was eligible, I joined both PRSA and NCC.

How long have you been in the PR field? My entire career, more than 30 years.

What was your first job in the profession? I was editor of a monthly newsletter for a trade association of state officials. I also managed the annual report, wrote the executive director’s speeches, and did other communications projects.

Tell us about your range of experience and/or your greatest skills. My 8th grade English teacher told me I should be a writer, and that is what I consider myself first and foremost. PR has allowed me to have a good career doing what I love.

Over the years, I have honed my writing skills into two primary areas: storytelling and messaging. They are really two sides of the same coin. Storytelling brings an issue into reality by focusing on a singular experience, usually one person’s narrative. Messaging helps make complicated issues approachable and understandable. The two together help an organization communicate to its publics in a meaningful way, and helps readers or listeners absorb and remember information.

What’s your greatest career achievement? Being named WWPR’s Washington PR Woman of the Year was probably the single greatest moment. Serving in NCC leadership has been the most meaningful, as it brought me both fabulous business connections and lifelong friends. I’m also very entrepreneurial, so launching my own agency and being on the founding staff of a non-profit were both wonderful, rewarding experiences.

What are your current career/professional goals? I’m coming down the home stretch of my career, so my goal at this point is to go out with a bang! I’ve had only four jobs in 30 years, so I think I probably have one more ahead of me… but I have no idea yet what that might be. I’d love to work in the arts, a museum, cultural organization, faith-based initiative, anything that lifts the human spirit.

How would you describe your professional philosophy? My professional philosophy is the same as my personal philosophy, which is to follow the Golden Rule in all things. It really is that simple!

What’s your dream job? In some ways, I have it now: being national spokesperson for a well-known non-profit that helps people. If I could get paid a whole lot more and do it from a tropical island, it really would be my dream job!

Who would you consider to be your mentor, and why? I haven’t had one sage who I’ve turned to over and over for guidance, but I have been blessed with many mentors throughout my career. David Swanston nurtured my early leadership potential and nominated for me NCC president. Hal Warner got me involved in national PRSA and appointed me to the Ethics Board. Bill Bronrott and Christine Whitten encouraged my entrepreneurship. I’ve turned to Mary Yerrick, Bruce Savage and Paige McMahon many times for advice over the years. Bill Novelli is my go-to guy for strategic counsel. There are dozens of others who’ve helped shape me professionally. I could go on and on! I’ve tried to repay their kindness by “paying it forward” when I have the opportunity to advise young people.

Offer any advice you have for maintaining work/life balance. It sounds cliché, but being fully present is key, both at work and at life. It doesn’t come naturally or easily; it’s a skill that must be practiced. Try to keep boundaries between work and home. With smart phones and social media, that’s so much harder today, but that makes it even more important to try.

Offer any advice you have for today’s PR practitioner. Take advantage of all the professional development and networking opportunities that PRSA offers. I have gotten every one of my jobs – and the bulk of my agency clients – through networking, mostly through PRSA.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time? I love the theatre, movies and live music. My favorite place is Wolf Trap on a summer evening. I also love traveling; my “bucket list” is entirely international travel.